May 21, 2008 Edition

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WR bans novelty lighters

Gloria Wilkerson
Staff Writer

The Walnut Ridge City Council took steps at their meeting on May 12 to keep the children and adults of Walnut Ridge safer from a fire threat when they adopted an ordinance banning the sale of novelty lighters within the city.

The ordinance prohibits the retail sale or distribution of lighters having features attractive to children 10 years old and younger, including visual effects, flashing lights, musical sounds or toy-like designs.

The ordinance states that juvenile fire setting has been identified as the fastest growing fire threat in the United States with more than 300 people killed, 30 percent being children, and almost $1 billion in property destroyed.

Many public safety agencies throughout the nation support the prohibition of the sale and distribution of novelty lighters, including the Burn Institute and several County Fire Chiefs Associations.

A violation of the ordinance, which became effective immediately, shall be a misdemeanor and carry a fine of $25 to $100 for each offense.

Councilmen also passed an ordinance regulating and requiring water mains and fire hydrants for all developed land within the city, whether zoned and subdivided as residential, commercial or industrial.

Any land developer within the city limits shall be responsible for all water mains, fire hydrants, etc. The owners/or developers of lands are required to provide plans that include specific descriptions of size, flow capabilities and locations of all proposed water mains and fire hydrants to the proper city authorities before any proposed development is begun.

The council was addressed by W.H. Reynolds of Paragould concerning street sealing and asphalt paving practices and the rising costs of asphalt, which is currently $75 a ton. Councilmen learned that a two-inch, 20-foot wide overlay for one mile costs about $97,000. With the city needing new patrol cars and the upcoming expenses for mosquito control, the council tabled any action about hiring Reynolds to survey the city's streets, listing what needs seal coating and overlay and doing the work.

"It all comes down to money," Street Superintendent Jim Poindexter said. "The city has a budget we have to live by."

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